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The third season of Pinball Seattle began with a scrimmage at Add-a-Ball Amusements on February 2nd. More of a social gathering than a tournament, many of the attendees were there to either join a team or just hang out with friends. League director Geoff Simons announced changes for this season, such as having a full roster of 10, and playing all members at least twice in a match, both earning a team bonus points. This rule has made team-less players a hot commodity on some nights as teams scramble to pick up highly ranked free agents like Maka and Kevin Birrell as subs. Not all teams seem concerned with subs, though; for Narwhal’s team, Seacorns, a nice bartender and a fun karaoke host essentially give them their “12th Man”! A few name changes debuted, with Another Castle (Crashers), Add-a-Ball (Death Savers) and Olaf’s (Northern Lights) all getting new monikers. Pinball Seattle is looking for a new name and logo to avoid confusion with the Seattle Pinball League (among other things) so look for that change soon. Ch-Ch-Changes!
The International Flipper Pinball Association (IFPA) State Championships were held across the USA and Canada on February 7th, with the top 16 players from each area competing for the top spot and the chance to represent their state or province at the National Tournament. Washington’s Championship was held at the 8-bit Arcade in Renton, and the biggest difference this year was the addition of a side tourney open to the public. A whopping 42 players competed in this 4-strikes format, which made it quite a big deal on its own and created an audience for the main event. Seattle’s Dave Stewart won the WA Championship and an opportunity to compete in the IFPA US National Tournament in Las Vegas (3/26), which was ironically won by Canada’s Robert Gagno! We assume the IFPA may be considering a name change for this annual event next year. North America!
Las Vegas wasn’t Dave Stewart’s only destination this year as he and other locals also traveled to California’s INDISC tournament (1/25) and the PAPA 18 World Championship in Pennsylvania (3/11-15). Dave is also a busy tournament organizer: besides helping with Pinball Seattle, he is the director of the NW Pinball and Arcade Show (NWPAS) series. As mentioned last issue, Dave has set up 10 pre-NWPAS events at various bars and arcades in Seattle. The first one, Pinball Seattle Combat, was held at Add-a-Ball (3/30). Like the name suggests, this event encompassed the regular Pinball Seattle night with all teams converging at one location. A hefty 85 players attended and were divided into teams, which then played a series of matches for individual points. In the end, those with the highest points won weekend passes to both NWPAS and the tournaments held that weekend. Despite the large turnout, the tourney was surprisingly efficient, and 12 people won passes! The following week (4/7) John John’s hosted the next event with a sold out crowd, and another 7 passes were awarded. 8-bit hosted the first all-age event (4/12) and another 5 prizes were awarded. There are more pre-series tournaments coming up in the weeks before NWPAS. Details can be found on the Skill Shot Calendar on our website. Weekend Passes!
NWPAS runs June 5-7 in Tacoma and is always a lot of fun. Besides many tournaments, there will be tons of pins and arcade games all on free play! This is the best chance to play rarely seen machines not often on location in the area. In the past, pinball had many different manufacturers, so there are literally hundreds of pins out there that local collectors could bring and the NWPAS should soon have a list of them on their website (www.nwpinballshow.com). There will also be lots of vendors and sneak peeks of upcoming games (if we’re lucky). Speakers include artists and designers Greg Freres and Dennis Nordman who created Whoa Nelly! Big Juicy Melons, a pin that has polarized the community with its large breast joke theme. They originally came up with the idea for the pin at a previous NWPAS, so it will be interesting to see if there’s a different reaction to it during their visit this time. Another guest speaker, artist Paul Faris, has worked on some of our favorite iconic machines such as Xenon and Centaur, and also made this year’s NWPAS poster. Icons!
Other big events in the next few months include: Add-a-Ball’s Annual 420 Tournament (4/20) which will have a Surf Champ as the grand prize, Flip Flip Ding Ding’s Second Annual Awesomefest! (4/25) which celebrates the arcade’s first anniversary, and the Annual Shorty’s Powder Puff Tournament (5/24), a competition exclusively for women (and hosted by Skill Shot). We expect to see another BBQ Tournament at the 8-Bit this summer, although a date hasn’t been announced yet. The NW Pinball Championships is a popular event that draws many out-of-towners due to a large prize pool and competitive format (Pump and Dump). It was once part of NWPAS but this year the event has moved further from the show and will be held in August (8/28-30). Local group Beneficial Malfunction has taken over this year as organizers of the tourney from Eden Stamm and Cayle George, due to Cayle moving out of the area. Although it will still be held in Marysville, it’s moving to a larger room and will also have games outside of the event for non-contestants. We think that sounds great and hope that the transition goes smoothly for everyone. Transitions!
Local weekly tournaments have all settled into a groove lately. A quick check on the IFPA site shows that everyone is registering their events to get the World Pinball Player Ranking (WPPR) points that contestants expect. Add-a-Ball’s Wednesday Flip Off continues to be the night with the most players, although Flip Flip Ding Ding’s Thursday Tourney is beginning to catch up due to their expanded floor space, less busy bar crowd, and Nycole working there. Another Castle Arcade Edition’s Saturday tourney attendance seems to ebb and flow, which probably has something to do with the extra money occasionally added to the prize pool. John John’s Tuesday Flip Off is beginning to catch on again, now that they have a new tournament director (and bar owner). Parking is probably the biggest issue for that weekly, but new games and WPPR point registration should help. Issues!
[/one_half] [one_half last=”yes” class=”” id=””]The 8-bit Mini Pin Golf Monthly restarted after a brief break and continues every 2nd Sunday of each month. Their first tournament of the year (3/8) had specific goals on each pin rather than target scores like most pin-golf tourneys. This format is fun, but they may want to consider an earlier cut-off time or fewer “holes” if they want things to end at a reasonable time. Pinheads Pinball organizes the Olaf’s monthlies every 3rd Sunday, with live webcams projecting games on the wall and streaming online. This is a nice feature as it keeps their game room less cluttered with spectators. Babes in Pinland is a WPPR points-free tournament just for women held on first Thursdays each month at Add-a-Ball. While competitive, Babes is a fun way for women to meet others into pinball. The Seattle Pinball League began its season in February, and occurs on various Saturdays throughout the year. Attendance for League events has surged, with anywhere from 50-70 people attending each one. These can be quite competitive even while people are frolicking outside on the grass. Frolick!
Another points-free event is the First Sunday Pinball Tournament @ Shorty’s, organized by Skill Shot. There are different guest-hosts each month and formats can be diverse depending on experiences or interests of the host. Original Shorty’s weekly Sunday organizer Kevin Lessing held an old-school pre-Brackelope double elimination format in February, while tourney director virgin Josh Bartlett held a similarly themed one in March. April’s event was the Annual Tommy Tournament, held on Easter and hosted by us. In this free-entry event, teams played with one person controlling the flippers while blindfolded! This year 18 teams competed with names such as Taco Journey and Gorgeous Ladies of Pinball, with the top four placing into Skill Shot’s Let’s Make A Deal award ceremony. This meant that instead of winning specific prizes, contestants had to choose between various boxes holding prizes like a PBR bowling ball, NWPAS passes, dirty books and an Easter basket. Team Beagle Boys went on a streak, winning all 5 of their matches and fabulous prizes: PBR shoes and a framed Skill Shot poster! Shoes!
The Seattle Pinball Museum is a good spot for people just getting into pinball since after the admission price, it’s all you can play. With over 40 games on-site there is something for everyone, and the recent addition of Bugs Bunny Birthday Ball proved to be irresistible to us. In February SPM partnered with Seattle’s Best Damn Happy Hour, which holds a free gaming day monthly at Seattle Center. SPM brought 4 pins for people to play alongside giant Jengas and checkers. Local KEXP radio personality DJ Riz provided the tunes and there were various stands to buy drinks. An informal high score match was held for different skill categories, with passes to the SPM as prizes. The museum seems to have developed a relationship with the Center as they also provided a Star Wars Episode 1 pin to EMP in January to close out their Star Wars exhibit. Although some seasoned players may turn their noses up at the museum, we think they are doing a great job of introducing pinball to a wider audience and definitely fill a space that arcade-bars can’t. Bugs Bunny!
Another way to introduce people to the sport of pinball is the creation of new spaces. Full Tilt Ice Cream, 8-bit Arcade, and Another Castle Arcade all are rumored to open new locations in the greater Seattle area, and there’s talk that Add-a-Ball may expand upstairs into the space above their front bar. John John’s owner Jeff Rogers recently put two pins at the Urban Outfitters on Broadway, which is a unique space for games, and the Westside bar in West Seattle recently added 4 pins to this mostly neglected neighborhood. Silverball Saloon has had a sign on their door in Greenwood for a few months now and word is that they are finally almost ready to open once the final permits are granted by the city. With pins operated by Bobby Conover and possibly others, this new location’s goal is to eventually have 30+ pins and an opening date sometime in May! Openings!
Stern’s newest release WWE Wrestlemania is fast becoming another popular title in Seattle. There was a rare Shorty’s Launch Party for it back in February, followed by unofficial parties at both 8-bit and Another Castle. John John’s had a bit of a coup when they were the first to get the Limited Edition version of the pin and priced it at 50¢, which was also the bar’s first major change since Jeff took over as owner. Avout Vander Werf caused a bit of controversy at Shorty’s when he replaced Metallica (instead of X-Men, the Stern pin that has been there longer) with WWE. Despite some opinions concerning the upper ring feature, which can hold the ball for a long time, WWE is a hit so far with operators as it has a more universal theme than Stern’s last two games, The Walking Dead and Mustang – although we doubt it will overtake Star Trek, which has only gained in popularity due to recently released code updates. The next two rumored games from Stern are Game of Thrones and Kiss, which should also both be fairly popular. Now if they could only get a handle on their public relations with modern fans (especially women) they would be unstoppable. Ding!
Pinball Tidbits: Skill Shot is hosting the Annual Powder Puff Tournament at Shorty’s on May 24th! This may be the longest running women-only tournament in the country, but we’re not sure since no one seems to know when the first one was. * If you heard that the Shorty’s block is being torn down for a high-rise, that rumor has been going around for a while. It may happen someday, but nothing is confirmed at this time. * The Josephine was forced to close its doors due to noise complaints. Its pins are also closed. * Chop Suey on Capitol Hill reopened with new owners and three machines operated by Shorty’s. * Seattle Waterfront Arcade has found a new home in Bremerton. Look for a summer opening date and (we assume) a name change. * Let’s Play Café in Monroe hosted their first monthly tourney recently, adding yet another event for those living north of Seattle. * Congratulations to Raymond Davidson for coming in 2nd place at this year’s PAPA Tournament! That moves him into the 16th spot in worldwide rankings. Jerk it! * Goodbye to Steve Cartoon who moved to Colorado last month. Say hello to Zen for us! Support Local Pinball![/one_half]